Ghana will on July 28 join the rest of the global community to observe World Hepatitis Day (WHD) create awareness of the condition.
The Day also seeks to highlight the need to accelerate the fight against viral hepatitis and to influence real change.
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver and is commonly caused as a result of a viral infection.
The five main viral classifications of hepatitis are hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E with different viruses responsible for each type of viral hepatitis.
World Hepatitis Day is celebrated in honour of Dr Baruch Blumberg’s birthday.
Hepatitis B vaccines are available for preventive treatment. Even though hepatitis C has no vaccine, it is curable.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infection poses a significant global health problem with an estimated 350-400 million chronically infected individuals worldwide.
Hepatitis B and C are the most common conditions and result in 1.1 million deaths and 3 million new infections per year.
A global report by WHO indicates that 296 million people are living with chronic hepatitis B infection, 58 million persons with hepatitis C, and 1.5 million new infections each year, with 820,000 hepatitis B-related deaths.
Similarly, Ghana in 2015 recorded 12.3 per cent of chronic hepatitis B, 1.5 million new infections per year and a total of 820,000 deaths with 6.6 million on treatment.
In 2019, 3.3 per cent was also recorded for chronic hepatitis C, 1.5 million new infections per year, 299,000 deaths and 9.4 million on treatment.
The 2022 WHD is on the theme: “Bringing Hepatitis Care Closer to Communities- Hep Can’t-Wait,” conveying the urgency of efforts needed to eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.
To this end, the WHO has charged countries to put in place interventions and specific targets to achieve hepatitis elimination by 2030.
Dr Atsu Godwin Seake-Kwaku, Programme Manager, National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme, Ghana Health Service, in ensuring the prevention and elimination of the condition urged hepatitis patients to avoid being exploited by people who offered unrealistic opportunities to find cures for treating the condition.
He said when in doubt patients should contact health professionals who had information on hepatitis for the best way out.
He said only about 10-25 per cent of hepatitis conditions required treatment saying, “so why should you subject yourselves to herbal medicines, which might rather damage the liver even more,” he added.
“It is important for patients to engage their healthcare providers and understand the dynamics very well so that prolonged treatment process will not push them to seek cure elsewhere. This is important to help prevent further damage to the liver,” Dr Seake-Kwaku stated.
He advised the public to take good care of their liver by avoiding unprescribed medications.